Prepare for another major shock in Downton Abbey series five

Anna Bates' rape in series four provoked a huge response from the ITV drama's viewers - and executive producer Gareth Neame has promised another big twist when the show returns

As television reviewers, we all know when something big is going to go down in Downton Abbey because the episode is unavailable to review. It happened with both Lady Sybil and Matthew’s shock deaths and again last series ahead of Green’s shocking sexual assault on Anna – a move that many fans and critics argued was an unwelcome addition to their Sunday night comfort viewing. 


But any fans operating under the assumption that writer Julian Fellowes had put us through quite enough trauma, well, you’d be wrong. According to Downton’s executive producer Gareth Neame, we should brace ourselves for another big upset when the eagerly anticipated fifth series comes to screens this autumn. 

“Each season there’s one of those right-angled moments that you don’t really expect to happen,” he observed at today’s episode one press launch. “It’s an effective part of the storytelling.” 

When asked whether there’s going to be anything to shock viewers this year, Neame ominously replied, “I hope you’ll think so.” 

You’ll have to wait until autumn to find out just what he’s alluding to when the much-loved ITV drama returns, picking up in the year 1924 – the dawn of a new age for England as the first Labour government takes power under Ramsay MacDonald and Carson “feels a shaking of the ground I stand on.” 

Although, besides the big shock we’ve been promised, you’ll be pleased to hear there are happier times afoot at the Abbey. “There is in all our series, I like to think, a good mix of high drama and laughs and there is certainly that mix this time,” explained producer Liz Trubridge.

“Of course, last series straight after Matthew’s death we couldn’t go in with great fun. We do not have that this year and there is, you’ll be happy to hear I’m sure, great rivalry again between Mary and Edith.” 


Downton Abbey returns this autumn with guest appearances from Anna Chancellor, Richard E Grant and Sue Johnston.